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Health department hosts free COVID-19 tests for Indianapolis protesters

Posted at 6:24 PM, Jun 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-06 19:13:36-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana State Department of Heath hosted a free COVID-19 testing event Saturday for protesters. Hoosiers have been coming together as one large voice, as a sign of unity, for more than a week.

For those marching, like Nick Brown and Daniel Burked of Indianapolis, the risk of COVID-19 is a price they are willing to pay, but cautiously.

“It is a risk but I think it was worth it,” Brown said. “At the end of the day solidarity is putting ourselves at risk and as a white person it is my job to use my body to protect black and brown people. And I think it was just a sliver of a way for me to do that and I needed to be there.”

That is why the state health department is doing their part to make sure those choosing to protest in big crowds are being safe, not only for themselves, but for others in our community.

“We just know that this is a time that we may see an increase number of infections so we wanted to make it easy for people that are coming downtown to walk with the protesters and get tested,” said Dr. Kristina Box, Indiana State Health commissioner.

Box has been warning of another wave of the coronavirus even before protests built up.

“It is certainly not going to help it,” Box said. “We just know by nature when you have that many individuals gathered in a small space and not recognizing social distancing and not wearing masks and high diving and pumping fists. Those are things that will increase infection.”

The testing took place next to the statehouse, where a sit-in was planned for Saturday afternoon.

Although the testing was located there for convenience for those protesting, it was also an opportunity for anyone concerned about their COVID-19 status to get tested for free.

“I drive a school bus and I drive Uber and Lyft so I thought it doesn’t hurt to go get it checked and there was no line so I came and had it done,” said Barbara Young of Indianapolis.

Evan Shearin has been photographing the protests in Indianapolis, but said he would want to get tested regardless.

“It’s not herpes you know what I mean, I don’t think there is a stigma,” Shearin said. “I think the general assumption is that we all got it and we want to know it the other way that you don’t.”

For the protesters, getting tested for the coronavirus is another way they feel they can be advocates for the cause they support.

“If we are going to stand with each other to protect black and brown people, this is another way to protect,” Brown said. “It is kind of like an oxygen mask on an airplane, like if I am going to be helping I really want to be ok.”

Although testing on Sunday was a possibility, the Indiana State Health Department decided against it. However, there will be future testing available for COVID-19.